Is Mathematics a Religion?

For many numerically illiterate people out there, the film The Man who Knew Infinity (released September 2015) was, if atheists will pardon the expression, a godsend. It describes the life and achievements of renowned Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. It did this in a way which not only made his passion for and staggering discoveries in Mathematics entirely accessible, but it also managed to express the very soul of the man.  In a particularly moving scene, the great mathematician G.H. Hardy ...

How to Lie with Numbers

By Monday, September 12, 2016 , , , , 0

There is a common saying in English, “numbers never lie”, which presumably expresses the idea that any argument backed up by data, statistics or quantifiable information must therefore be trustworthy or inherently credible. One of the key tasks of TOK is to step back, analysize and reflect on the basis of anything presented as evidence for an argument. We live in a world where data is generated at an unquantifiable rate, we are bombarded by constant information whilst being asked ...

PROCESS PORTFOLIO: 5 TIPS

So...the PROCESS PORTFOLIO. In recent student blogs I have discussed: Theory of Knowledge and Contemporary Art, (July) Photographs and the exhibition” (August) and MUSEUMS, ARTEFACTS and the COMPARATIVE STUDY (July) ...so am posting today about the Process Portfolio. I had the opportunity to talk with some of the senior PP examination team when we gathered at the IB Assessment Centre. These examiners spent many hours looking through PP files submitted for the last examination session, and I gained some great insights into some PP issues through ...

CONTEMPORARY ART and THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

 I recently spent a day at the TATE MODERN gallery with a group of Norwegian students and their teachers, who were staying in London for a few days having left Oslo the day before. We were looking for links between, and questions about, Art and the Theory of Knowledge. My role at the Tate on that day was to introduce and explain to the students some of the tricky issues that infuse and surround contemporary art. Tate Modern is the ...

The Beauty in Maths

A few months ago the BBC conducted a survey to find the most beautiful mathematical equation in the world. There is of course a long history of the relationship between the idea of beauty and mathematics. The ancients certainly pondered that relationship as well as connecting it to the concepts of truth and of goodness. In Plato’s mind certainly, as well as in the mind of others, the true, the good and the beautiful were objectively one in the transcendental ...

Is Economics a Science?

Robert J. Shiller is a Nobel Laureate in Economics and an Economics professor at Yale University, in an online article published in 2013 he addresses the vexed question as to whether Economics is a Science. Whilst acknowledging the limitations of his subject as a science readily enough he cannot bring himself to altogether abandon that label. Moreover, he almost seems more interested in highlighting the failures of other disciplines as sciences (chemistry, physics, politics, astronomy…) than to provide evidential support for ...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the OCC (“It’s a Nightmare!” “No it’s Fantastic!”)

The IB say "Welcome to your OCC...The OCC is a key resource for teachers, coordinators and other school stakeholders. The enhanced branding and colour scheme improves both navigability and usability in order to delight the many of you who depend on the site for information and collaboration". I get a lot of correspondence from art teachers about the OCC (ONLINE CURRICULUM CENTRE http://occ.ibo.org/ibis/occ/) , not all of it favourable, to put it mildly... The bad Teachers are frequently mystified and confused by the ...

YOUR BODY is YOUR ART (?)

Question: can anything be art? This, of course, is as much a DP Theory of Knowledge question as a DP visual arts one, and it may be a question that you have already tried to answer either in school or out. In many ways the definition of art is constantly changing, just as the things that artists do evolve and sometimes challenge conventions.   Use your body Some mark-making ‘conventions’ are very old but still not exactly traditional.  In the French Pyrenees the walls ...

Art too bad to be ignored

In the Visual Arts Guide there is a series of questions related to TOK “that a visual arts student might consider” To what extent is artistic knowledge something which cannot be expressed in any other way? Are ways of knowing employed in radically different ways in the arts than in other areas of knowledge? To what extent does imagination play a special role in the visual arts? What moral responsibilities do artists have? How can the subjective viewpoint of an ...

The Curatorial Rationale: avoid ARTSPEAK!

Write in plain English (or Spanish or French) - And avoid ARTSPEAK (“Meaningless convoluted twaddle”). Some people say that art should speak for itself and that writing about art is pointless. In fact in the Theory of Knowledge guide Arts section there is the question, “Is there any point in discussing the arts - should we not simply experience them?” Other questions in the same section are: “How can the subjective viewpoint of an individual contribute to knowledge in the arts?” “On what basis ...